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Top Tips to Fix Dry, Itchy Skin

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 19 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Skin Dry Itchy Moisturise Soap Heating

Many of us suffer from dry, itchy skin year-round, while some of us start to itch and scratch on a cyclical basis - during the winter, for example. Whatever the case, having dry skin is never fun, and coming up with a cure is what most of us are desperately seeking.

What many people don’t realise, however, is that prevention is better than a cure. Helping your skin stay hydrated and moisturised – from the inside out – is the best way to prevent it from getting dry and itchy in the first place.

While that may sound obvious, getting to that point is easier said than done. So what can you do to keep dry, itchy skin at bay – and make your skin look fresher and younger year round?

Lifestyle Changes

Sometimes, simple lifestyle changes can make all the difference when it comes to your skin. If you smoke, stop. If you have an unhealthy diet, start eating more fruits and vegetables and drink more water (see below).

Keeping out of the sun is also important, as is applying the right sun cream during the warmer months. If you use cosmetics, avoid overly processed ones and concentrate instead on safe, natural organic products.

For very dry skin, supplements of fish and flaxseed oil have been known to help. They contain EFAs, or essential fatty acids, that are designed to help keep your skin hydrated. Taking a break from swimming in a chlorinated pool and wearing gloves when using cleaning products can also be quick fixes for dry skin.

Top Tips

Here are some top tips to keep your skin feeling smooth, clear and without that tight, itchy feeling…
  • Don’t use soap. Wash with cool water or use a cleansing cream specially formulated to not dry out your skin. Avoid all artificial colours and fragrances and use natural, healthy skin care cleansing products. Stay away from harsh hand sanitisers.
  • Drink plenty of water. It’s true what they say: keeping your skin hydrated from the inside out can really make a difference. Try to drink anywhere from six to eight glasses of water daily for two weeks, and see if you notice a change.
  • Moisturise regularly. Use thick emollients – ask your GP for a recommendation – and if your skin gets very dry, apply almond or baby oil when it’s slightly moist. Dermatologists recommend that you apply a good moisturiser within just a few minutes of getting out of the bath or shower and that you always pat yourself dry.
  • Use safe cosmetics, and check the labels. Ant-ageing skin care creams that contain retinoid or alphahydroxy acids can dry out the skin more, making it flaky and itchy. Similarly, certain fabrics – such as wool and polyester – will either feel rough to the skin or not allow it to breathe, and make you feel itchier.
  • Keep your house cool. Ever wonder why you feel itchier in winter? Often that’s because central heating can play havoc on your skin. Try to keep the heat turned down to a minimum and use a humidifier, if necessary, to trap the moisture in. Sleep with the heating off and extra blankets at night.
  • Check if you have a dust mite allergy. This can be a common reason behind itchy skin. Ask your GP for testing (you may need a referral), and if the test is positive, vacuum regularly and wash all bedding at 90 degrees. Buy a dust mite protector for your mattress, pillows and duvets, and throw out old pillows and buy washable ones. Have your carpets professionally cleaned and if your allergy is really bad, you might consider installing hardwood or laminate flooring throughout your home instead.

When to See Your GP

Dry, itchy skin can be extremely bothersome, but for most people these simple skin care tips can help relieve the worst symptoms, and make life bearable again. Often, simple lifestyle changes can make all the difference, and banish that itchy feeling forever.

If nothing seems to help, however, you might want to make an appointment to see your GP, who may recommend a different plan or refer you to a dermatologist, to get to the root cause of your itchiness. Good luck!

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